Users just don't want tools where they have to think in a certain way to find the information they are looking for. Instead, they want tools that will stimulate and support their natural way of thinking - following their thought processes and helping them to make discoveries that they might not have even been looking for. For example, when someone wants to discover something online at home, they can conduct a Google search and then find themselves captivated by following a series of links on numerous pages, sharing anything particularly interesting with friends, before realising 30 minutes later that they've ended up somewhere completely different from where they started out, but have discovered a lot that they didn't even know they were looking for.
This should be the same with a business tool - in an ideal world it should follow the trail of thought, being truly agnostic, so the user can work as effectively as possible, becoming entranced in their discoveries. Along the path of discovery, they need to be able to securely share what they have found with others in the organisation so they can encourage debate and, ultimately, make sure everyone is informed enough to make the right business decisions.
Of course, giving employees tools they enjoy using will also make them happier at work, which is a massive benefit when it comes to retaining valued staff.
The software and systems we use to conduct our work need to be more in tune with the user now than ever before. Employees are far more adapted to technology outside of the workplace than they used to be and it's important the tools they have in the workplace to help them do their work successfully are ones that can support the way of thinking and interacting with technology they have become accustomed to.
Otherwise, organisations run the risk of missing out on the discoveries that can be made through letting their employees interact with data and learn in an environment they are comfortable with, with the tools they enjoy using, and at their own pace.
Terry Smagh is vice president, QlikView SENA (SouthEast North Asia)
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